Luxury watch retail is becoming as much about an experience as a transaction, and Audemars Piguet is jumping ahead with a concept in Hong Kong that could transform the way it interacts with clients.
The business, which notched sales of just under CHF 1 billion in 2017, is fusing hospitality with retail in a sumptuous apartment it calls the AP House.
The space, which is designed as an authentic upmarket home away from home for lovers of Audemars Piguet watches, is the company’s answer to the question: “What more can we do to elevate customers’ experience with Audemars Piguet?”
François-Henry Bennahmias, AP’s chief executive officer, says the space can be used to “invite friends for lunch, organize a business meeting … there’s no obligation to buy a watch. You can take a seat, relax and chill out, if that’s how the mood takes you”.
The concept developed after the Audemars Piguet team imagined how brand founders Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet would be dealing with their clients if they were living in the 21st century, travelling the world and sharing their passion for beautiful watches.
The result is a contemporary private apartment where guests enjoy simple pleasures.
“Visitors are welcome to relax, reflect, connect or disconnect, while experiencing the team’s impeccable service. The lounge will also play host to exclusive events where guests can discover the Manufacture’s creations, its savoir-faire and its place in today’s world,” the company promises.
Of course, meeting clients in extreme luxury is not new to the British watch industry. Bond Street institution Marcus, the boutique owned by Marcus Margules, did most of its business in its hospitality suite upstairs and is now moving his entire operation into a massive Mayfair townhouse on Berkeley Square. He will be a close neighbour to George Pragnell, which meets its billionaire customers in similar splendour.